By Joseph G. Healey, MM
NOTE: This speech was given at the Annual International Writers’ Conference at the Catholic University of Eastern Africa (CUEA) AMECEA Gaba Campus in Eldoret, Kenya on 20 September, 2016.
Thank you for this award as the best-selling author of AMECEA Gaba Publications –CUEA Press for the year 2015. This award is really for the Small Christian Communities (SCCs) members to whom I dedicated the book:
To the founders and visionaries who created the AMECEA Small Christian Communities (SCCs) Key Pastoral Priority especially the Catholic bishops and other participants in the 1973, 1976 and 1979 AMECEA Plenary Meetings. Two of these bishops are Bishop Patrick Kalilombe, MAfr, the Bishop of Lilongwe Diocese in Malawi who died in 2012 and Bishop Christopher Mwoleka, the Bishop of Rulenge Diocese in Tanzania who died in 2002.
To the hundreds of thousands of lay people in Eastern Africa who faithfully and joyfully participate in the weekly meetings and various activities of their Small Christian Communities.
Now a short history of this book: Building the Church as Family of God: Evaluation of Small Christian Communities in Eastern Africa, Eldoret: AMECEA Gaba Publications – CUEA Press Double Spearhead Nos. 199-200 (Print Version 2012 and 1st Reprint 2014). 163 pages.
In 2011 during the 50th Anniversary of AMECEA many pastoral leaders including many of the AMECEA bishops recommended the importance of a thorough evaluation and assessment of SCCs to learn from the past and to help plan for the future. We should not feel threatened by the term “evaluation” as though we are going to be criticized or held under a microscope. Evaluation should be constructive rather than critical. The overall purpose is to how to improve our SCCs, how make our SCCs better in the future. A key is to first recognize our mistakes and failures and second to learn from them. Especially we should not to repeat our mistakes and failures, but to bounce back from them. The final resolutions of the 2011 AMECEA Plenary Study Session recommended that an on-going evaluation be included in the revitalization of SCCs in Eastern Africa.
This evaluation has gone through various drafts, updates and revisions. It treats the “Quantitative Evaluation of the Growth of SCCs in the AMECEA Region” (presently over 180,000 SCCs) and the “Qualitative Evaluation of the Growth of SCCs in the AMECEA Region.” The original paperback book included interviews with a number of bishops and other pastoral agents in the AMECEA Region.
Our Eastern Africa Small Christian Communities (SCCs) Training Team is pleased with the positive response to this book, and especially the widespread use of the book, and is grateful to the staff of CUEA Press for issuing a second printing of the book in 2014.
To reach a wider audience we created a free, online Digital Edition (that is also called an “Ebook” or “Electronic Book”) that is regularly updated from the 2012 Print Version and is available as a free, online Ebook. About 10 pages of new research, interviews, Case Studies, quotations and grassroots SCCs experiences are added each month. It is closely connected to our SCCs Facebook Page (https://www.facebook.com/www.smallchristiancommunities.org). This free, online Ebook is now 805 pages as of 12 September, 2016 and is found on the Small Christian Communities Global Collaborative Website at:
This Ebook contains our ongoing research in 2012–2016 that includes new interviews with bishops and pastoral agents on all levels in the nine countries in the AMECEA region and new grassroots Case Studies of SCCs. The underlying principle is that ongoing evaluation makes the SCCs in Eastern Africa better.
This Ebook contains many practical, pastoral resources such as:
1. APPENDIX: “25 Online Resource Materials on the On-going Formation and Training of Small Christian Community (SCC) Members.”
The handy “Search” Feature is very helpful to researchers and writers like yourselves. Entering “Gaba” I got 49 results. Then 15 results for “Pastoral Institute” and 12 results for “CUEA Press.” Small Christian Communities got 1,231 results.
As of 14 September, 2016 about 17,000 people have visited this online Ebook.
The Eastern Africa Small Christian Communities (SCCs) Training Team has 10 members: nine Africans (five from Kenya, two from Zambia one from Malawi and one from Tanzania) and one expatriate missionary based in Eastern Africa. There are four laymen, two laywomen, three priests and one sister). We are presently compiling a Small Christian Communities Training Handbook (with Facilitators Guide) in both print and electronic formats to be ready in 2017.
I close with a challenge to all of us in Pope Benedict XVI’s 2011 Apostolic Exhortation Africa’s Commitment. No 136 states:
The Catholic Universities and Higher Institutes in Africa have a prominent role to play in the proclamation of the salvific Word of God. They are a sign of the growth of the church insofar as their research integrates the truths and experiences of the faith and helps to internalize them. They serve the church by providing trained personnel, by studying important theological and social questions for the benefit of the church, by developing an African theology, by promoting the work of inculturation, by publishing books.
This writers’ conference to motivate budding writers and authors in Africa is an excellent example of acting on the pope’s challenge. I close with an African proverb: If you see something good, pass it on to others.
Rev. Joseph G. Healey, MM
P.O. Box 43058
00100 Nairobi, Kenya
0723-362-993 (Safaricom, Kenya)
973-216-4997 (AT&T, USA)
 AMECEA is an acronym for "Association of Member Episcopal Conferences in Eastern Africa." It is a service organization for the National Episcopal Conferences of the nine English-speaking countries of Eastern Africa, namely Eritrea (1993), Ethiopia (1979), Kenya (1961), Malawi (1961), South Sudan (2011), Sudan (1973), Tanzania (1961), Uganda (1961) and Zambia (1961). The Republic of South Sudan became independent on 9 July, 2011, but the two Sudans remain part of one Episcopal Conference. Somalia (1995) and Djibouti (2002) are Affiliate Members. AMECEA is one of the eight Regional Episcopal Conferences of SECAM (Symposium of Episcopal Conferences of Africa and Madagascar).